Rumors fuel tensions at refugee camps

Rumors fuel tensions at refugee camps

Rumors are fueling tensions at the country’s overcrowded refugee camps, triggering outbreaks of violence, Kathimerini understands.

A fire last Monday night which ravaged the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos was set by frustrated migrants after reports circulated that authorities were planning mass deportations to Turkey. Prior to that, sources said, a rumor had done the rounds that seven migrants died in an attempt to escape the island hidden in the back of a truck.

“The spreading of rumors, which can spiral out of control and become dangerous, is something we see everywhere, as we saw in Idomeni,” Stella Nannou of the Greek chapter of the United Nations refugee agency told Kathimerini, referring to a camp near the Greek border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that was closed down earlier this year.

“As we don’t know the source, it is difficult to tackle [the rumors],” Nanou said, adding that migrants at the camps are “desperate for ready information and tend to grasp onto rumors.”

Giorgos Kosmopoulos, who works for Amnesty International on Lesvos, said it is possible that human traffickers are spreading the rumors to draw desperate migrants into their clutches.

Rumors are quickly disseminated by the migrants themselves via their cellphones, according to employees of aid organizations working on the islands.

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